Donald Trump may play a key role in shaping Earth’s climate in the next decades. However, most scientists and environmentalists fear that changes will be for the worse.
As a matter of fact, what the new US President has stated since he assumed office on Janaury 20, has raised worldwide concerns that America will be on the forefront of denying climate change and mankind’s responsibility in causing it.
Scientists are fighting back the way they are used to: Not politics, but data. According to NASA and NOAA, 2016 has been the hottest year on record. Global temperature was the highest since 1880, when meteorologists started to measure it at the global scale. And 2016 is also the third consecutive record year, surpassing the previous record of 2014 and 2015, with almost 1°C above the XX century average
Recent scientific studies suggest that this rate of warming is bringing Earth in line with temperatures last seen during an interglacial era that ended 115,000 years ago, when there was much less ice and the sea level was 6-9 meters higher than today.
The current, seemingly unstoppable warming trend makes it crucial for the world’s leaders to do whatever they can to comply with the “Paris agreement”, signed by the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. The Paris deal commits countries to restraining the global rise in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In 2016, as always, the Arctic took the hardest brunt of global warming. At the North Pole, sea ice extent is the smallest ever recorded so far. In face of the environmental disaster that Earth is fscing, Mr. Trump, in his latest moves to dismantle the legacy of his predecessor, resurrected the Keystone XL pipeline that had stirred years of debate, and expedited another pipeline in the Dakotas that had become a major flash point for Native Americans.
What’s worse, and to top thigs off, Mr. Trump has chosen Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nominating a man who questions the science of climate change—in charge of protecting the environment.
Hard times are coming for Earth’s climate. Everybody needs to play their part to prevent climate change deniers and negationists from compromising our environmental future.
Federico Pasquaré Mariotto (Associate Professor, Insubria State University, Varese, Italy)